LEGAL408-21B (HAM)

Family Law

15 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
Te Piringa - Faculty of Law


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Paper Description

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A focus on the law and social policies involved in the formation and breakdown of family relationships. The paper specifically examines the matrix of legislation and case law that underpin common family law disputes and legal proceedings in the Family Court.

In particular, this paper focuses on issues concerning paternity, guardianship and parenting orders (care and contact), family violence, care and protection of children by the Ministry for Children (Oranga Tamariki), and relationship property.

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Paper Structure

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This is an B trimester paper.

The teaching component comprises 2 (two) hours of lectures per week.

Lecture timetable and rooms

Lecture hours: Thursdays at 4 - 6pm

Room: S.1.02


In 2021 all papers offered by the Faculty (including this paper) will be available via FLEXI learning, i.e. when a lecture for this paper is presented in person in the classroom, it will also be simultaneously available for students to connect to via Panopto webcast, and that lecture session will also be recorded and made available for students who are unable to connect to the lecture when it is presented.


Te Piringa Faculty of Law places great emphasis on providing students with opportunities for high achievement in law papers. As a 400 level paper there is an expectation that students will be more self-directed in their learning than in 300 level papers. Students will be expected to attend all lectures; to demonstrate an ability to analyse, synthesise and critique applicable law and associated information; and apply facts and law to practical and professional situations.

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of applicable Family Court procedures and policy, and apply relevant statutory and case law persuasively; and
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • demonstrate an ability to research a family law topic and analyse the legal, policy, and social issues that arise from factual matrices.
    Linked to the following assessments:
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This paper is internally assessed. Assessment comprises an opinion assignment, an application and affidavit assignment, and a take home test. There is an additional mark for participation.
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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Assignment 1 - Opinion
10 Sep 2021
5:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Assignment 2 - Application & Affidavit
10 Sep 2021
5:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
3. Take home test
15 Oct 2021
5:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Student participation
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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All law students are required to purchase, for use in all law papers, a copy of McLay, Murray & Orpin, New Zealand Law Style Guide (3rd ed, Thomson Reuters, 2018). This is available from the University Bookshop at an approximate price of $37 incl GST.

NBThe New Zealand Law Style Guide has launched a blog which you can visit here: The blog is run by the Style Guide’s editorial team. It aims to provide posts that are helpful for Style Guide users. It will include news and updates as well as clarifications, corrections and examples. You can also follow the Style Guide on Twitter: @nzlawstyleguide.

The required text for this paper is Mark Henaghan and others, Family Law in New Zealand (19th ed, Wellington, LexisNexis, 2020). This is available from the University Bookshop at an approximate price of $160.00 incl GST.

In addition, the most important legislation/rules for students to read include:

  • Care of Children Act 2004,
  • Family Violence Act 2018,
  • Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 / Children's and Young People's Well-Being Act 1989,
  • Family Proceedings Act 1980,
  • Family Court Rules 2002, and
  • Property (Relationships) Act 1976.

Students should also refer to:

  • Family Court Act 1980,
  • Civil Union Act 2004,
  • Marriage Act 1955, and
  • Status of Children Act 1969.

This legislation can be obtained electronically at no cost from the New Zealand Legislation website:

There is no copyright on New Zealand legislation. We do not recommend that you purchase a hard copy of the acts or the rules - refer to the online resources, which provide the most up to date versions of the legislation.

Further required readings may be provided on the paper’s Moodle site, and in the Waikato Reading List for the paper. Any such material is provided on the following terms:

University of Waikato owns the intellectual property rights, including copyright, in and to this site, or has acquired the necessary licenses to display the material on the site. As a student of the Te Piringa Faculty of Law, you are granted a limited license to use (access, display or print a single copy) the material from the papers in which you are enrolled for the purposes of participating in the paper only, provided the information is not modified. Materials may not under any circumstances be copied, stored, distributed or provided in any form or method whatsoever to any third party. Any other use of the material is prohibited. None of the material may be otherwise reproduced, reformatted, republished or re-disseminated in any manner or form without the prior written consent of University of Waikato. To obtain such consent, please contact the Te Piringa Faculty of Law.

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Recommended Readings

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The New Zealand Family Law Reports and the New Zealand Family Law Journal, which can both be found on the Lexis Advance database.

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Other Resources

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Further reading (optional)

There are several web sites which contain relevant information for students who wish to extend their knowledge and understanding:

NZ Ministry of Justice

NZ Family Court

NZ Law Commission

MInistry for Children, Oranga Tamariki

NZ Family Violence Clearinghouse

Minnesota Center against Violence and Abuse

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

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Online Support

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Online support for this paper is provided via Moodle.

If you require assistance with Moodle, or encounter any problems, please contact the Help Desk. You can send a message to Help Desk by using the instant message service in your paper (from the participants list within the People block). Alternatively, you can email them directly at or call 838 4008.

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Students should expect to spend 150 hours in total on this paper. In addition to lecture attendance and learning materials, significant time will need to be spent on background and complementary reading. Students should allow for periods of more focused research time in the preparation of assignments.

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Linkages to Other Papers

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Restricted papers: LAWS408

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